Iowa City, Quad Cities, Capital City, Cedar Rapids amp up Pride plans

Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Iowa City and the Quad Cities have all expanded their Pride Month offerings, with more virtual fun, chances to join in from your home or yard, and special guests. Capital City Pride in Des Moines decided just a few weeks ago to cancel this year’s event, which had initially been delayed from June to July. Quickly, the group has come up with a new slate of events that includes parades and special guests the Iowa Phoenix women’s football team. Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and the Quad…

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Personality Profile: Jenni Fitzgerald is ‘selfless’ teamwork embodied

You may know Jenni Fitzgerald as the “special assistant” to legendary University of Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder, one of the familiar faces with Bluder on the coaching bench for decades. But did you know Fitzgerald was also one of Iowa’s first-ever 5-on-5 girls’ basketball stars? Or that she remains one of the state’s most heralded high school athletes? Or, that she knows as much about heartbreaking loss as she does about thrilling wins? In honor of Women’s History Month, here’s a collection of fascinating facts about a sports pioneer…

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Cedar Rapids Roller Girls aim to support Tanager Place’s LGBTQ Center with Feb. 28 ball

The team will donate a portion of its proceeds from its 2nd Annual Black & Blue Ball Feb. 28 to the center, which serves about 400 teens a year and aims to serve even more. CEDAR RAPIDS — Two years ago, the Cedar Rapids Roller Girls cancelled an entire season because they were so direly in need of rebuilding their team and organization. What a difference it made: today, the Roller Girls are back up to full-squad strength and have 25 regular participants. And, they’re hosting their second annual Black…

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LGBTQ sports leagues thrive in Des Moines, Iowa City

Two LGBTQ-identified sports leagues are increasing their presence in central and eastern Iowa, each in their own ways. In central Iowa, the Pride Sports League is seeking to grow this year beyond its outreach of about 900 recreational players in about a half-dozen sports annually, says board chair Tyler Pettit. The League is seeking to reach more deeply into Ames and the Cedar Valley area. The Iowa City-based Lambda Softball Association (LSA) aims to expand into eastern Iowa communities such as Fairfield, Washington, Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities for…

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Roller Derby Lags on Trans, Nonbinary Inclusiveness

The first-ever gender policy for the organization that helps roller derby grow worldwide came out in 2011. It was clinical, and harsh. If you were not assigned female at birth, the policy said, a healthcare provider had to verify that your “sex hormones are within the medically acceptable range for a female.” Ouch. My most recent article about my love for roller derby described the significance of the sport in terms of feminist empowerment and gender inclusivity. This time, I am writing to share that as much as roller derby…

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Roller derby carves spaces for inclusive strength

Why did women and gender-fluid people start up to 2,000 roller derby leagues worldwide? We needed it.  I’m writing today about roller derby as a cultural phenomenon, a feminist and “inclusive” place to find like-minded people, showcase our strength, and be aggressive. I have had personal struggles and triumphs over body image, a lack of self-confidence, and an angry fire inside of me due to years of oppression. I have been roller skating since I was 8, but never realized that roller derby existed until I saw the movie “Whip…

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Board games offer lessons of life, inclusiveness

Walking into the game room of Mayhem Collectibles, in Clive, can be a surreal experience. There are people sitting at tables throughout the room playing games of all kinds. Games about building the best suburb, games about discovering underwater kingdoms, even games about lying to your friends face to sneak contraband past the Sheriff of Nottingham. This is one of my favorite places, for the same reason as so many others: it’s relaxing and fun. “I have major social anxieties when it comes to interacting with strangers … But gaming…

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Support United Action for Youth tomorrow — from home or on your bike

United Action for Youth is working to spread word: you can still show your support during Sunday’s Ride 4 Youth without going out in the rain! “Virtual riders” are welcome and encouraged for the 7th Annual Ride 4 Youth, says Mickey Hampton, development director for the youth nonprofit. “You can support the event tomorrow from the comfort of your own home,” she said. “And, you can register the actual day of the event.” United Action for Youth (UAY) holds its biking fundraiser every year, and the event is supposed to…

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Love for derby and heritage merge for Heitz with Team Indigenous

Theresa Heitz comes across as soft-spoken, humble, and preferring to be behind the scenes .But when it comes to roller derby and her indigenous heritage, Heitz speaks with strength. “Even before Standing Rock and NoDAPL, there was Idle No More,” Heitz says, recalling the Native American-led demonstrations against the DAPL pipeline in North Dakota and western Iowa, and the environmental awareness movement founded in 2012 and led by Native American women. “Native Americans throughout the United States have always faced oppression here. We technically weren’t even considered citizens until 1930.”…

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Axe-throwing, inspired by Canada, takes off in Iowa

One to three pounds of wood and sharpened metal. Lift it slowly behind your head, take a step forward, and thwak. The axe is buried in the wooden target, and cheers sound from behind you. Welcome to axe throwing, a new recreational sport steadily growing in popularity since about 2013. That’s when a young entrepreneur kicked off a franchise in Philadelphia after enjoying the sport in Canada, reports NBC News. “It’s more fun and engaging than darts or bowling,” says Nick Collins, owner of Hatchet Jack’s in Iowa City, which…

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